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CSOs back Museveni on GMO bill

Barbara Ntambirweki and Agnes Kirabo on her right while addressing the press at Hotel African

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Civil Society Organisations have hailed President Museveni for not assenting to the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012.

In a letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, the President proposed that the inventor of genetic material be held liable for any harm that their products cause to community.

The President further recommended that the law addresses the matter of mixing GMO materials and Non-GMO seed materials. By this, the President wants parliament to clearly spell out isolation measures such as greenhouses and isolation distance applicable for a person involved in genetic material research and production.

The Joint statement was on Wednesday presented by Barbara Ntambirweki, a research fellow under the Trade, Innovations and Biotechnology Policy Programme at ACODE and Agnes Kirabo the Executive Director of Food Rights Alliance among others.

Ntambirweki says that Parliament should be considerate of the impact of commingling GMOs material on Uganda’s farming system.

She adds that Uganda has been a good market for organic products something that should not be wiped out.

The CSOs also concurred with the President when he highlighted that GMOs should not be looked at strictly as a science issue but also as a socio-economic and political issue as it extends to agriculture, health, trade, environment and national security among other issues.

Ntambirweki want parliament to clearly include a clause on benefit-sharing such that the inventors can share their proceeds with the local community in Uganda which they say has been the custodian of Uganda’s genetics that the investor will be modifying.  

The CSOs further urged Parliament to act with a keen eye and scrutinize the bill to protect Ugandans. 

They say while the GMOs are said to be an alternative to hunger and malnutrition that has occurred in Uganda and other parts of the world this is not justifiable.

Henry Nixon Ogwal, the Director Fundraising at Action Aid, says it is paramount that parliament respects the opinion of the President and the citizens.

The Bill seeks to provide a regulatory framework that facilitates the safe development and application of biotechnology, research, development and release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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